How Our Nurses Make a Difference

Cropped Shot of a Female Nurse Holding Hands with Patient

The Final Part of Our Series Celebrating Student Nurses at CUNY SPS

As part of our celebration of National Nurses Month and Week this May, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) is highlighting some of our remarkable nurses who dedicate their lives to taking care of others.

In the final part of our tribute, two nursing students share their thoughts on their passion for the field and how they've benefited from CUNY SPS' nursing programs.

Pamela Lee, RN, AMB-BC, PED-BC, CLC
RN to BS-MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership (Accelerated)

Headshot of Pamela LeeAs a staff nurse at New York City Health and Hospitals, pediatric RN Pamela Lee takes pride in “nursing from the heart and building strong relationships with my families.” Lee, who provides direct outpatient care to pediatric patients ranging from infants to young adults, explained her passion for her job. “With each appointment, I learn more about the family dynamics and get to see how their story unfolds, and ultimately how it ends with transition into the adult care setting,” she said.

Finding this kind of fulfillment is important to any professional, but is especially critical for nurses, according to Lee. “It is so important to identify what area of nursing you are passionate about,” she noted, “as this facilitates the ability to provide quality, compassionate care to patients.” For her part, Lee is particularly focused on helping families from underserved backgrounds “to reduce chronic illness and improve health outcomes, using preventative care as a guide.”

Lee's participation in the health care profession extends back more than two decades. Before earning her associate degree in nursing (ASN) at CUNY Medgar Evers College, she worked as a medical assistant for almost 18 years. When it came time to pursue her dream as a RN, however, Lee ran up against some roadblocks. Taking in-person classes and clinicals made the prospect of nursing school “difficult as a mother who works full time.”

When she came across CUNY SPS's accelerated RN to BS-MS in Nursing Organizational Leadership program Lee felt, as she put it, “ecstatic.” The online program, a unique accelerated pathway that allows student to earn both a bachelor's and master's in nursing in a shorter accelerated time frame, not only enabled Lee to complete her BSN but also made it possible for her to get a master's degree, all while allowing her to balance family, work, and school.

Thus far, the Nursing Organizational Leadership program hasn't disappointed. Lee reported that the faculty and staff at CUNY SPS “are phenomenal…and this is especially true of the nursing department. Under the direction of [nursing programs academic director] Dr. Reilly, the nursing faculty are extremely supportive in assisting the students in achieving their academic goals.”

Peers have also contributed to her success. As Lee explained, “the [peer] discussion forums provide shared information which support the goals of the course, [thus] further increasing knowledge and skills.” Once she finishes her master's degree, Lee hopes to expand her practice of nursing by taking on a leadership role, or possibly through teaching, as “nursing school is the foundation” of the entire profession.

To those who are considering a career as nurse, Lee offered the following advice: “Just do it!” In her view, too many people underestimate what can be done with a nursing degree. She explained, “Most people think about the nurses who provide direct patient care, but as the backbone of healthcare, nursing provides vast possibilities that extend far beyond the hospital setting.”

Lee particularly urged those who feel called to make the world a better place to consider a career in the field. “Nurses represent the largest segment of the [healthcare] workforce and are independently positioned as change agents from the bedside to the boardroom,” she said. “Individuals who choose nursing as a profession are answering a calling to care for others.”

Sheldon Orgill
RN to BS in Nursing

Headshot of Sheldon OrgillSheldon Orgill, a student in the RN to BS in Nursing program, is about to graduate from nursing school but has already discovered that the profession offers many potential career paths. He explained, “I've worked in diverse settings, such as ambulatory care, community health, school nursing, and even a short stint in an emergency room. I've worked for small hospitals, large hospitals, schools, and even health departments.” While his experiences in health care have varied, Orgill has always kept one aspect of his work constant: providing equitable care to all patients.

Most recently, Orgill worked with Washington's DC's Department of Health as a member of its emergency response team, specifically as a community health nurse. There his duties included triaging members of the public for infectious diseases like COVID-19 and Monkeypox, and distributing and managing large-scale medical resources, including PPE and testing equipment. He reflected, “This team was essential in combating the spread of COVID-19 and Monkeypox in the nation's capital.”

At present, Orgill is taking a break to spend with loved ones—and to prepare for graduate school. His decision to further his education dates all the way back to his childhood when he first discovered an interest in science and health care. Although Orgill didn't initially dream of becoming a nurse, he eventually found himself “drawn to the values, occupational mobility, and stability” associated with the caring profession. Today, he can confidently say that becoming a nurse “is by far the best life decision I have ever made.”

Why did he choose CUNY SPS? Orgill noted, “After leaving CUNY Medgar Evers with my associate degree in nursing, it was important to me to advance my education with a BS in Nursing at a reputable and resource-filled institution.” CUNY SPS checked both boxes—and it offered Orgill a full scholarship.

As for highlights of his time at CUNY SPS, Orgill said, “there are too many to name,” although he did mention attending the Stephen Colbert show on CBS as well as the opportunity to make numerous connections in different health care-related industries. Also high on his list? Being able to “represent the undergraduate nursing class at our [Nursing Convocation and] Pinning ceremony,” on May 9. To sum up, he said “I would recommend CUNY SPS to any student looking to advance their education.”

Going forward, Orgill's next goal is to earn a graduate degree and become a family nurse practitioner, and for him, it's personal. Nurse practitioners offer primary care services and often practice in marginalized communities that are more likely to experience health disparities. Orgill expressed hope that, in his practice, he “would be able to offset [some of the] health disparities that communities of color face, like access to health care or provider bias.” Even further down the road, Orgill plans to “explore the intersectionality of healthcare and politics to create favorable health policies for all,” although he has not yet determined “whether that looks like pursuing a law degree, social media campaigns, or political lobbying.”

In the meantime, Orgill offers the following advice to prospective nursing students: “Just go for it! Being a nurse is one of the best careers a person can have....With people living longer, there is a great need for the next generation of nurses. I have friends who exclusively work in schools, on helicopters, as flight nurses, or even in health departments working in crisis response. Whatever or wherever you plan to go, there is a nurse needed.”

As for those who are just entering the profession, Orgill has only one piece of advice: “Remember the oath you take as a nurse to provide competent and holistic care to all patients, no matter what.”

About the CUNY SPS Online Nursing Programs

The CUNY School of Professional Studies offers a portfolio of online degree and advanced certificate programs in nursing in order to help fill the growing void within the healthcare system. Serving as the first fully online nursing degrees in the CUNY system, our programs help nurses advance within their careers while continuing their education in a timely, flexible, and affordable way.

About the CUNY School of Professional Studies

As New York's leading online school since 2006, the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) offers the most online bachelor's and master's degree options at the City University of New York, and serves as the University's first undergraduate all-transfer college. With 26 degrees and numerous other non-degree and grant-funded workplace learning programs, CUNY SPS meets the needs of adults who wish to finish a bachelor's degree, progress from an associate's degree, earn a master's degree or certificate in a specialized field, and advance in the workplace or change careers. Consistently ranked highly by U.S. News & World Report for its online offerings, CUNY SPS has emerged as a nationwide leader in online education. The School's renowned and affordable online programs ensure that busy working adults may fulfill their educational goals on their own time and schedule.

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